Residing in one of the colder climates in the nation presents challenges, but not roadblocks. A cold frame provides a jump start on our plant hardiness zone 3 growing season in central Minnesota. Growing up, Dick and I both learned from our parents that whatever you have, use what you've got. Whether it be finances, intelligence, a specific skill set that you've come by naturally or learned, or repurposing castoff items. So, that's exactly what Dick did.
To build the cold frame, Dick used a steel "catwalk" supported by cement blocks for the base. "Catwalks, which are also called elevated walkways, allow access between buildings and to elevated areas of equipment or machinery that need regular attention in a variety of industrial and manufacturing environments." (Source: www.steelesolutions.com) The catwalk came from a building used by the now defunct Hanna Mining Co. in Crosby, Minnesota, where Dick's father worked. Many years after his father's death, Dick was hired to demolish the building. His lifetime work, as owner of an excavating business, netted him many finds that grew rusty over the years, such as this catwalk, until the perfect use surfaced. After cutting off the handrails, he lined the catwalk with landscape plastic to prevent soil from falling through the diamond grid pattern and to allow water drainage. Next, he constructed a wooden frame and filled the box with soil to a depth of 7 inches, then he planted seeds of Cherry Belle and Watermelon Radishes, Nantes Scarlet Carrot, a colorful mixture of leaf lettuce, and Evergreen Bunching Onions. Covered with a skylight removed from our back porch ceiling and old paned windows, the captured daytime warmth is enough to carry the plants safely through the cool nighttime as April soon transitions into May. The waist high "salad bar" cold frame virtually eliminates back strain. And that's a very good thing, especially for aging backs!